Quebec-based Medicom S.A.’s Augusta, Ga.-based unit has purchased a new facility in nearby Thomson that will triple its production space as demand for medical masks skyrockets amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new plant in McDuffie County, west of Augusta, has already started receiving equipment that will enable United Medical Enterprises to quadruple its output, with a particular emphasis on surgical masks and N95 respirators.
In a news release, Medicom called the new facility a “second plant,” though a report by the Augusta Chronicle said the former Hollander Sleep Products factory, a 208,000-square-foot site, would take over as the main production facility, with the 72,000-square-foot facility back in Richmond County serving as a warehouse.
Either way, Medicom has continuously praised the local workforce for its dedication, especially as it ramped up hiring to meet surging demand as the coronavirus outbreak moved across the world.
“We chose to remain in Augusta, Ga., as we have many long-term employees who have years of mask manufacturing expertise, which will ensure a seamless expansion,” said Guillaume Laverdure, Medicom president and global chief operating officer.
When it broke out in China, export controls on protective equipment made it difficult for Medicom to fill existing orders from what was its largest source country.
The company quickly made use of its global diversification. Augusta began to churn out more masks to pick up the slack in the U.S., and production ramped up in Taiwan and France. As it became clear that countries would be looking to reduce their dependence on China, Medicom committed to building a new factory at home in Canada, plus others in Singapore and the United Kingdom.
UME will expand its workforce from 98 to more than 120 with the move, the Chronicle reported. Before the pandemic, it employed about 80 people.